Rainbow Falls at the Kerikeri river scenic reserve in New Zealand

Staying in a little town called Kerikeri in the North Island, I spent the weekend visiting Rainbow Falls at the Kerikeri scenic river reserve which is free. The reserve consists of the Kerikeri basin, the historic power station, Wharepoke Falls, Fairy pools and Rainbow Falls.

You can easily spend a full day walking at a leisurely pace and have more than enough time to enjoy each location. It is even accessible by wheelchair from the Rainbow Falls car park *major bonus points* .

From start to finish with no stops it takes about 1.5 hours to walk from one end of the reserve to the other. The walk is easy on your feet and the surroundings are magical.

Silver fern

Fun fact: When bent over, the fronds catch the moonlight and can illuminate a path through the forest. I think I will try this and see if it really works ^^

A man with his kids gave me a silver fern ( Cyathea Dealbata) and “Ponga” in te reo in Māori, a symbol of New Zealand’s national identity since the 1880s. The elegant shape of the fronds representing strength, resistance and endurance. His little boy shouted “New Zealand no1” as they carried on walking, haha 🙂

According to Māori legend, the silver fern once lived in the sea. It was asked to come and live in the forest to play a significant role in guiding the Māori people. Māori hunters and warriors used the silver underside of the fern leaves to find their way home.

Wharepoke Falls

As you walk up the Kerikeri river from the Kerikeri basin the first waterfall you pass is Wharepoke Falls also known as Wharepuke Falls. Despite only being 5 meters high the falls are wide and create a strong visual impact. Not to be overlooked and worth visiting if time permits. With many large stones, you can perch yourself and soak up some sun as it is exposed to the elements as opposed to Rainbow Falls further ahead, which has more shade.

fairy pools option 1
Fairy Pools

Further upstream there are small stony rapids known as fairy pools. Here there is a bench to take a rest and enjoy the view amongst the sound of flowing water.


View from the base

Eventually you reach the “piece de resistance” Rainbow Falls. At 27 meters it is over five times the height of Wharepoke Falls and a sight to remember. In summer you can swim in the watering pool and what started as a little walk could turn into an amazing swim under and within a magnificent waterfall. Unfortunately it is too cold at the moment but come summer I will definitely take a dip 🙂



View from first platform



View from second platform


With three viewing platforms you can enjoy the structure of the waterfall from top to bottom. In fact the Te Araroa Trail joins the Kerikeri River Track at this point and carries on down the hill towards the Kerikeri Basin.

Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit the Kerikeri basin and all the historic sites within it and so will do a seperate blog for this visit.

Fun fact: Te Araroa – New Zealand’s Trail – is a continuous 3,000 km walking track from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the South. A 3000km route that takes about 5 months and passes through New Zealand’s spectacular landscapes from beaches to volcanoes to forests and cities. An adventure I hope to do too one day 🙂

Other waterfalls very close by include:

  • Charlie’s rock waterfall (matter of minutes away)
  • Te Wairere Waterfall, also known as Wairoa stream falls
  • Haruru Falls


Check out my related blogs:

Waterfall photography: My experience at Rainbow Falls

Kerikeri basin and historic sites


Websites you may find interesting:




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